Mardi Gras Around the World

Mardi Gras is French word for “Fat Tuesday” which reflects the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the fasting of the Lenten season.

In some countries, it is called Shrove Tuesday referring to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday.

Mardi Gras all around the world

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Mardi Gras really showcases the enduring French traditions in New Orleans. It begins with a masked ball on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6 but the largest and most elaborate parades take place the last five days of the Mardi Gras celebration.

Photo credit: Miguel Discart (Flickr)
Photo credit: Miguel Discart (Flickr)

Veracruz, Mexico

Mardi Gras in Veracruz is called Carnaval. Eight days before Lent, the festival kicks off with the quema del mal humor—the “burning of ill humor” in the form of an effigy of Satan or an unpopular political figure. The Carnaval is enjoyed with festive parades, floats, costumes, music, dancing, and all-night partying which cause the city of Veracruz to shut down all throughout the event.

Photo credit: Byron Howes (Flickr)
Photo credit: Byron Howes (Flickr)

Mexico banner for link

Cologne, Germany

Karneval, also known as Fasching in some parts of Germany, begins November 11 all the way through winter. In Cologne, the festive events include parades, balls, concerts, and traditional variety shows. The highlight of the carnival is Rose Monday which happens two days before Ash Wednesday. Cologne folks go out masqueraded and greet each other “Kölle Alaaf!”

Photo credit: LenDog64 (Flickr)
Photo credit: LenDog64 (Flickr)

Venice, Italy

The flamboyant Venetian Carnevale  is known to be the mother of all Mardis Gras celebrations. About two weeks before Lent, locals will be seen in authentic costume. Masks are an important feature of the Venetian celebration. Several distinct styles of mask are worn by people according to their occupation. Some of the most popular types of masks are bauta, a white mask covering the entire face; colombina, a half mask; and the Medico della peste which is a mask with a long beak.


Patras, Greece

The Patras’s Carnival, Patrino karnavali, was inspired by Dionysus, the god of wine. It officially starst on St. Anthony’s Day (January 17) and stretches all the way into early March, and ends up with a lavish parade and a kite-flying competition. It is one of the largest festivities of its kind in Greece and one of the biggest in the entire Europe.

Photo credit: linmtheu (Flickr)
Photo credit: linmtheu (Flickr)

Mardi Gras in the Philippines

The European countries and the United States are not the only places known for Mardi Gras celebration. The Philippine culture also showcases the festival with their own version of it like the the Ati-Atihan of Kalibo, Aklan celebrated every January 14 to 16; Iloilo’s Dinagyang from January 17 to 23; the Sinulog of Cebu City every January 23; and the Masskara Festival of Bacolod City every October 19. The Pasayahan sa Lucena in Quezon province also reflects the Mardi Gras. The grand parade highlights colorful costumes, props, elegant floats and street dancing.

Photo credit: Ree Dexter (Flickr)
Photo credit: Ree Dexter (Flickr)

14 thoughts on “Mardi Gras Around the World”

  1. I have two thoughts after reading this post. One is NEW ORLEANS. Each time I see the word Mardi Gras, New Orleans comes to mind, and it comes at a time when I had been watching the NBA All-Star in NO. So, I could imagine the music they play in my mind.

    Another thing that came to mind was that our Ati-Atihan is a form of Mardi Gras? In that case, we have them all over the country!

    1. Mardi Gras traditionally is related to religious beliefs, but in the Philippines we define Mardi Gras as a colorful and entertaining street festival. Actually I have known the word Mardi Gras since I was young, and the picture that comes to my mind whenever I hear the word, is a fiesta with parades, ati-atihan, giant floats, colorful props, street dancing and the likes. The folks in out town call that event during fiesta, Mardi Gras…

  2. I would love to take part in one of the Mardi Gras festivals around the world. I had no idea that the Venice Carnival it’s a celebration of Mardi Gras but after reading your post it all makes sense really! When I was in Malta I heard about their own adaptation of the Mardi Gras festival, on the island of Gozo. I love how colorful and full of celebrations this festival is.

  3. I suddenly remembered when my previous company (when I was still working in the corporate world) threw a year-end party wherein Mardi Gras was the theme! Though I wasn’t able to attend it because I was pregnant back then, I saw the photos shared by some of my colleagues and it was a colorful event indeed! It’s good to know that we have a version of Mardi Gras festival here in the Philippines. I didn’t realize that until you’ve mentioned it. Haha

  4. I didn’t know Mardi Gras meant “he practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the fasting of the Lenten season”. Wow! haha, I just thought it was some ethnic tradition, I didn’t know it was somehow related to religious beliefs! Thanks for sharing this!

  5. I have encountered the words Mardi Gras a lot of times, but had no idea what it means. Thanks to this post, now I know. I have always associated Mardi Gras with colorful celebrations and festivities. It’s nice to know how it looks like in different countries.

  6. This is indeed a popular festival. I’ve seen many photos of this event over the years. But I have yet to be in the actual celebration. I wonder how would I feel to be part of the crowd. 🙂

  7. Haven’t seen any Mardi Gras event in flesh even here in country but I am pretty sure I will travel the place soon and discover more. I like to see those type of events as they have very colorful costumes. Here in the Philippines, we have a very rich culture and tradition. All those lively colors are so pleasing to see in the eyes. I hope to witness one soon.

  8. I’m not a big fan of mardi gras events because really I haven’t seen any for real. Maybe I will be a convert when I finally see one no? I love the colorful horses in the Greek mardi gras. Have you seen all these? I didn’t Ati-Atihan is a form of mardi gras since it’s usually in January right and not on Lenten? Does that mean Sinulog is also a mardi gras celebration?

  9. Such gorgeous colorful celebration. Here in India too, we celebrate in Goa, where the tradition was brought in by the Portuguese! From your post, I think I love Venice the most! Its just exquisite!

  10. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras before. Even the one in my country. The reputation I’ve known is a wild party yet it’s truly a celebration of life.

  11. I know Fat Tuesday. My parents did indeed have fat Tuesday and indeed after that the fasting period would start. I don’t really do anything special because of Fat Tuesday. However carnaval is a big thing here! It spreads over 3 days. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday! Interesting to see Mardi Gras all over the world! Carnaval isn’t huge everywhere in the Netherlands. But the part where I live, almost everyone celebrates it!

Leave a Reply